Coronavirus pandemic: equality and human rights considerations in access to food and essentials

Published: 22 Apr 2020


This article was updated on 7 May 2020.

Since publishing this press release the British Retail Consortium replied to our original letter. We have responded. See both responses: 

Equality body calls on retailers to do more for disabled customers during corona crisis

We have written to the British Retail Consortium to highlight concerns about disabled people not on the Government's clinically vulnerable people list and their access to food and essential items.

Read the letter to the British Retail Consortium (102KB, Word)

Commenting on the wider impact of coronavirus on disabled people, Equality and Human Rights Commission CEO Rebecca Hilsenrath said:

"The global pandemic is causing significant levels of fear and uncertainty, and we know that it is having a considerable impact on disabled people. The government’s first priority is to protect people’s safety, and its response necessarily includes decisions beyond the scope of normal governing. But we need to make sure that disabled people are not forgotten. 

"From life and death clinical decisions and access to a fair trial, to the policing of social distancing, being able to work effectively at home, receive safe and appropriate care and complete their food shopping, many disabled people are not receiving the support they need and to which they are entitled.  

"We understand and support the need to save lives and protect the NHS but, with current restrictions in place for the foreseeable future, we must also support those most in need. Protecting every part of society needs to be part of our country’s response and should define who we are when we emerge from the current crisis. We are speaking to the medical, criminal justice and retail sectors, among others, on how we can work together to make sure that disabled people are not left further behind during this emergency.  

"We must also begin to plan now for the future. Current reductions and restrictions on protections and rights must be lifted at the right time and in ways which recognise their particular impacts on disabled people."

Press contact details

For more press information contact the Commission's media office on:

0161 829 8102